The New Feminist Spirituality

| 10/31/2012 9:26:22 AM

 Witchhead Nebula and Feminist Spirituality 

Editor’s Note: A reader's recent tip reminded us about a collection of articles from the October/November 1986 issue of Utne Reader about Halloween, contemporary witchcraft, and feminist spirituality. In celebration of the holiday, we’ll be posting a few of our favorites online through the 31st.

When I left the Catholic Church at 20, I was certain of two things. One was that God the Father, with his heaven and hell, was pretty ridiculous. The other was that there were forces in the universe larger than our lives. While there was plenty of support for the former belief in the left of the 1960s, there was little for the latter. I didn’t know where to look for a structure to accommodate my deep, but vague, spiritual beliefs.

Politically, I moved from the left into the women’s movement. By this time I’d separated my spiritual beliefs from my political ones, and there was nothing at first in the women’s movement to suggest I should do otherwise. I took a class in parapsychology and read a bit about Easter religions, but nothing seemed to offer any framework for my spiritual hunger. Recently, however, I’ve discovered a spiritual tradition which, if it hasn’t given me all the answers I’m looking for, has at least helped shape my journey.

The feminist spirituality movement began to emerge in the mid-1970s and has become one of the largest submovements within feminism. It’s amorphous, blending radical feminism, pacifism, witchcraft, Eastern mysticism, goddess worship, animism, psychic healing and a variety of practices normally associated with the occult.

Witchcraft especially seems to appeal to feminists on a spiritual quest. It is a women’s religion, a religion of the earth, vilified by patriarchal Christianity and now, finally, reclaimed. Witches seem to embody all that men fear and hate in women—strength and potentially destructive (to men) forces. Feminist historians have added another more poignant dimension to our understanding of witchcraft: Witch burnings have been revealed as a form of genocide whose victims were old women, odd women, influential women, sexual women and healers.

11/5/2012 6:50:47 PM

Creepy. Nothing but superstition. Why resurrect this drivel now? I may end my 30 year long subscription to Utne Reader. Ms. Magazine must be run from a mental hospital. It's just irresponsible to spread this kind of thing. Yeccchhhh!!

Robert Johnson
11/5/2012 3:53:54 PM

The Code Pink organization is a great example of heroic women! I can't understand why any woman would want to be a part of Judaism, Christianity or Islam since all three denigrate women. Hopefully more women will learn about the rational and natural alternative they have in Deism. Deism is the beautifully simple belief in God based on the application of our reason on the laws and designs in Nature. A Deist believes the designs point us to our Designer. In Thomas Paine's landmark book on God, Deism and religion, The Age of Reason, The Complete Edition, he called for a revolution in religion based on our God-given reason and Deism. I agree with Paine! Progress! Bob Johnson

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